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Manfull: Zero tolerance for domestic abuse

BY ERIN MANFULL | NOVEMBER 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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Recently, it seems that the public-relations departments on various NFL teams have become a broken record. Player hits wife. Wife stands by husband. NFL makes a statement about domestic abuse. Player gets a slap on the wrist. Player still plays. This tragic story isn’t anything new, but it seems to be gaining a lot of publicity with recent cases such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

But the thing that really grabbed my attention is that the NFL doesn’t have a zero-tolerance policy on domestic assault. According to the NFL substance-abuse policy, a player would be suspended for four games during the season for a first offense. But here’s the thing: This minor suspension for domestic assault is almost laughable. After personally seeing the infamous video footage of Ray Rice and his fiancée in the elevator, I was stunned when the only initial punishment he received was a two-game penalty. To be fair, I was also pretty mad that after getting beaten to a pulp, his fiancée still married him. When the NFL issues such a minor suspension for an assault of that caliber, or any assault in general, it’s broadcasting the idea that officials don’t take domestic abuse very seriously.

However, because there’s been such a string of player mishaps lately, the NFL has had to actually start taking preventative action. After years of seemingly pushing these stories under the rug, Adrian Peterson’s child-abuse controversy prompted the change in domestic-abuse tolerance.

Peterson had been suspended (with pay) since the second week of the season after he was charged with child abuse. The league didn’t take any official action until the trial (that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing), but after he pleaded no contest, on Tuesday, the NFL did something I didn’t expect: It suspended him without pay, and he won’t be eligible to play until April 2015.

This should be the standard, not just in football but in life itself. There should be no tolerance or second chance when it comes to abuse. The very idea that the NFL Players Association has filed an appeal for “inconsistent punishment” is disheartening. I think taking this case as seriously as the league did is the first step in becoming a better and more positive organization. There needs to be a new precedent, and if Peterson and Rice are the people associated with this change, so be it. These men did heinous things, and maybe they were just awful enough to provoke a much-needed zero-tolerance policy.

The NFL is undeniably a wildly popular organization loved and watched by millions of people.  Whether or not they intended it, the players are idols among children everywhere, and their actions reflect the beliefs of the league. It’s about time the NFL takes a stand against domestic violence and puts a stop to the lenient penalties.


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